Visit these walkable (and bikable) neighborhoods to see just how creative endeavors are helping reshape the Mile High City.
Fourteen artist studios are perched above the main floor at Helikon Gallery & Studios, one of RiNo's newest creative spaces.
—Photo courtesy of Helikon Gallery & Studios
Certify it, and they will come.
Colorado might be best-known for its outdoor splendor, but the mountains aren’t the only beautiful things driving the economy. The creative sector is becoming a chief contributor to our collective coffer: Creative industries accounted for almost $521 million in economic impact in 2014, according to the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. Even through the economic doldrums of the 1990s and early ’00s, the sector grew by an average of two percent each year. Then, in 2011, the state passed legislation to establish what would become 12 certified creative districts throughout Colorado.
The designation wasn’t so much a Sea-Monkeys approach to growing these communities—add water and watch an art colony be born!—but rather an official recognition of areas that had long been hubs of artistic innovation. To wit: Salida and the Art District on Santa Fe were the first to be certified. “We define the creative sector more broadly than most,” says Margaret Hunt, director of Colorado Creative Industries, which runs the certification program. “We’re talking about things made by hand or made in the mind. The enterprise can be fine art, or it could be culinary arts, clothing, interior design, or architecture.”
The hope is that with the state’s backing, these districts will attract more visitors, spawn more artsy endeavors, and further fuel local economies. It seems to be working: Revenue growth in the certified districts increased, on average, by six percent in 2014, three percent more than the creative sector in general. That same year, three million people visited Colorado’s 12 certified districts, generating $135 million in revenue. And that’s to say nothing of the contributions from the unofficial art districts peppering Denver’s landscape, among them Golden Triangle, South Broadway, and Cherry Creek North—destinations just as worthy as their sanctioned brethren. So what are you waiting for? Go see for yourself.
Trip 4: 40 West 
Trip 1: Golden Triangle
Take an afternoon tour of the trendiest spots in this high-culture neighborhood.
People typically visit Golden Triangle to check out one of the eight museums within the area’s 30 or so blocks or to see a show at boundary-pushing Curious Theatre Company. We’d like to suggest a third option: the stellar slate of independent galleries—five of which are members of the esteemed Denver Art Dealers Association—plus chic coffeeshops and restaurants.
See if the “Studios Open” sign is up outside Boarding House Studio Galleries.  This former—you guessed it—boarding house, built in 1906, holds 14 studio galleries. Step into the converted rooms to see where each artist works, whether it’s the white-walled space in which Kim Conrad (pictured) creates abstracts and landscapes or the paint-speckled floor beneath drummer turned abstractionist Daniel Berv’s feet.
Parsley’ s abundant menu of mouthwatering sandwiches and salads, made of mostly organic ingredients, will fuel you for the afternoon. We recommend the spicy tuna and any of the smoothies.
The high ceilings and hardwood floors at 18-year-old William Havu Gallery  are masterpieces in their own rights: The American Institute of Architects bestowed the space with a 1998 Design Award for its postmodern look. Inside, you’ll find a regularly changing selection of regional contemporary works primarily created by mid-career, established artists such as Colorado’s own Amy Metier, whose colorful oil paintings will take over part of the space through June 18.
Stroll to Goodwin Fine Art,  which rotates shows that highlight the works of contemporary artists in a range of mediums every six to eight weeks. This month, view abstract paintings from Andy Berg and Mark Villarreal in That Was Then, This Is Now.
Contemporary art has a strong foothold in the Golden Triangle, so a visit to the Native American Trading Company  presents a nice change. This 30-year-old gallery houses a smorgasbord of Southwestern and Native American art, from turquoise jewelry made by tribal artists to pottery and traditional kachina dolls.
Happy hour sips await inside nearby Pint’s Pub . Raise your cask-conditioned ale or single-malt whiskey—the pub claims to serve the largest selection of the spirit in the world—and toast to a day well spent.
Save the Date: Winter 2017
The currently closed Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art (which also houses Denver painter Vance Kirkland’s studio) is slated to reopen in its new location—with 38,500 square feet dedicated to decorative art—at the corner of 12th and Bannock streets by the end of next year.
—Photos (from top) courtesy of Kit Hedman, Sarah Boyum, Ralph Reutiman, Goodwin Fine Art, Native American Trading Co., Sarah Boyum
Trip 2: River North Arts District
See some of the city's hottest arts in action.
Before brewers and chefs colonized RiNo, artists built the neighborhood with their paintbrushes. And pencils. And clay and metal. Today RiNo, which became a certified creative district in 2014, is an ideal spot to see many of those artists at work and gain a deeper understanding of the creative process. Here, four spots where it’s socially appropriate to play voyeur matched with nearby food and drink destinations.
Price Davis outside his studio
Price Davis Studios 
On warm days, artist Price Davis opens the garage door to his studio—where he’s lived and worked for 20 years—so passersby can see his large-scale metalworks, both finished and in progress. (The studio is open by appointment otherwise.) In truth, “large-scale” doesn’t begin to describe Davis’ massive sculptures: His steel “Denver Lily,” which was on view at Denver International Airport last year, measures 28 feet tall and weighs approximately 2,500 pounds.
Pair With: At cozy Hutch & Spoon Cafe , you’ll still be discussing Davis’ complex pieces long after your buffalo Reuben has disappeared.
"Spinning Walker" by Blake Street Glass Studio co-owner Kit Karbler
A phone call will tell you whether co-owners Kit Karbler and Dmitri Rudenko are blowing glass, an art form they’ve been practicing for 37 years. If so, swing by this spot to view a small gallery of prismatic, color-streaked pieces—Karbler’s work features distinctive, vibrant threads—and feel the heat while watching the artists mold glass in the 2,100-degree furnace.
Pair With: Less than a half-mile away, a picnic table, a glass of Colorado Red Ale, and a meat-and-cheese plate await you on the patio at four-year-old Black Shirt Brewing Co. 
Jennifer Ghormley in her RedLine studio
Anytime RiNo anchor RedLine is open, so are the 12 studios encircling the main gallery space. Artist and philanthropist Laura Merage opened the nonprofit venue in 2008, and it has since been recognized for its forward-thinking exhibitions and educational programming. Poke around any of the studios—all inhabited by artists in residence—and ask as many questions as you’d like. We’re fans of works by Jennifer Ghormley and nature-inspired paintings from Ashley Eliza Williams, who earned her MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Pair With: Should your browsing extend past 4 p.m., sip a gin-based Ancient Sonar at the new PonPon Bar  while admiring the intimate watering hole’s adjacent art gallery.
The blue building that houses Helikon has been in Cayce Goldberg’s family since 1974. After being transformed into an arts venue in late 2013, it now displays illustrative arts, primarily by artists who have never shown before in Denver, in two galleries. Fourteen artist studios upstairs overflow with paints and palettes; the petite spaces (which range from 120 to 360 square feet) reveal the processes behind the final products. Your best bets for the studio doors being open are during exhibit receptions and monthly First Fridays.
Pair With: Satisfy any craving at one of the Source ’s 15 merchants. We’re partial to the morning buns at Babettes Artisan Bakery or chips, guacamole, and a refreshing watermelon-jalapeño margarita at Comida.
Save the Date: November 4
Get an up-close look at work from the ’hood’s diverse array of artists during the annual RiNo  Art Safari, a weekend of district-wide tours that include stops at galleries, murals, breweries, restaurants, and more.
—Photos (from top) courtesy of Justin Levett, Wendy Silverman, Hayley Krichels
Trip 3: South Broadway
To get the full flavor of this growing creative corridor, experience it by bike.
While technically not a certified creative district, South Broadway often gets lumped in with what is sometimes dubbed the South Denver art district, a massive swath of Denver that includes Old South Pearl Street and Old South Gaylord Street. We think this eclectic stretch of road—which in recent years has transformed into a cohesive community of artists, crafters, and food and drink artisans—deserves special attention. Our exploration traces nearly three miles of Broadway. So load up your bike (or hit the B-cycle station at West First Avenue and Broadway) and get ready to roll.
Fancy Tiger Crafts 59 Broadway
If you can’t find the fabric and thread you need at this emporium of all things crafty, they probably don’t exist. What definitely does exist in this storefront is a community of artisans who dig dyeing their own yarn and making quilts that are pretty enough to hang on the wall. Bonus: Fancy Tiger helps budding seamstresses (and knitters and crocheters) improve their skills with a robust roster of classes (starting at $25).
Gildar Gallery 82 S. Broadway
A 5280 Top of the Town editors’ pick in its inaugural year (2012), this contemporary gallery exhibits the works of established artists like Clark Richert (who helped create southern Colorado’s famous arts commune, Drop City, in the 1960s) as well as emerging artists, such as New York City plein air painter Joey Cocciardi. This month, local, national, and international artists explore the notion of vessels as physical containers and also as placeholders for meaning in No Empty Vessels (through June 4).
Ironwood 14 S. Broadway
Perhaps more impressive than owners Alyson Two Eagles and Jeff Childress’ collection of weirdly cool I-must-have-thats (framed bat carcasses?) and sketches and paintings from local artists is the fact that they regularly manage to shove it all aside to make space for small concerts from the likes of Seattle songwriter Tomo Nakayama.
Eslinger Art Gallery 118 S. Broadway
Half of artist Kevin Eslinger’s gallery is devoted to his pop surrealist creations, while the other half showcases elegant and often sharp-witted work from Lucky Onion, the adjacent letterpress and art print shop run by his wife, Cristy Fernandez.
Brushstrokes Studio-Gallery 1487 S. Broadway
Nestled in the heart of antique row, Brushstrokes takes a more traditional approach to art: The walls hold largely oil and acrylic paintings. Wander in on any given day, and you’ll likely find at least one, if not all, of the studio’s acclaimed painters sitting in front of their easels.
Bardo Coffee House 238 S. Broadway
Illegal Pete’s 270 S. Broadway
Fuel up for the 1.5-mile ride to your next stop with a cup of nuanced, roasted-in-Denver Kaladi Coffee from Bardo Coffee House, where local artists’ works deck the walls. Or if you need something more substantial, visit Illegal Pete’s. Besides serving tasty tacos and burritos, the three-year-old location regularly hosts live music.
Peter Durst Studio, Gallery, and Sculpture Garden 1571 S. Broadway
Ceramist Peter Durst learned his craft at Aspen’s acclaimed Anderson Ranch before opening his studio and gallery in Denver in 1990. He’s been impressing locals with his large-scale ceramic sculptures and garden art—and teaching at the Art Students League of Denver—ever since.
La Cour Denver’s Art Bar 1643 S. Broadway
By now, you’ve earned a drink. Find it at La Cour, a tiny, two-year-old bar serving an all-French wine list, classic cocktails, and—if you’re feeling adventurous—escargot. Climb the steep stairs, snag a seat near the baby grand, and order a glass of something from the Rhône Valley. Then enjoy the ambience—for-sale works from local artists hang on brick walls—while listening to music from the likes of Billy Wallace (pictured), an 86-year-old jazz pianist who’s played with BB King.
Save the Date: June 11 and 12
The Art Students League of Denver ’s Summer Art Market, this year at East First Avenue and Grant Street, presents a fantastic opportunity to score affordable art. Even if you don’t find your living room’s pièce de résistance, the live music, food, and party atmosphere are worth your time.
—Photos, top to bottom, courtesy of Fancy Tiger Crafts, Wes Magyar, Ironwood, Kevin Eslinger, Brushstrokes Studio-Gallery, Illegal Pete's, Peter Durst, Freud Media Productions
Trip 4: 40 West Arts District
Connect with Lakewood's past on this blossoming stretch of West Colfax.
Over much of the past century, West Colfax Avenue (aka U.S. 40) has lived and died by transportation trends. From the 1930s through the ’60s, as Denver’s primary east-west thoroughfare, it was dotted with restaurants, bars, and hotels. Then, with the completion of I-70 in the 1970s, the main artery through town moved north, and areas along West Colfax fell into decline. The hipsterfication of the nearby Highland and Sloan Lake neighborhoods—and the extension of the W Line to Golden in 2013—helped return focus to this overlooked stretch. But artists had already been paying attention: Almost 200 were working in the area before 40 West Arts became a certified creative district in 2014. Today, the community has more than 500 members, its own theater, a growing collection of galleries, 16 newly opened studios, and a partnership with national nonprofit Artspace to build affordable live-work spaces. It might have a way to go before it’s comparable to spots like RiNo, but this funky little corridor with its “I think I can” ethos is definitely worth a visit. (Aim for a Saturday, when more of the galleries are likely to be open.) And because we can’t help feeling a little nostalgic in the glow of Colfax’s neon signs, we suggest you experience it 1950s-style: with dinner and a show.
Given West Colfax’s legacy, it seems appropriate to start your date in the car with a driving tour of the district’s collection of murals. At RTD’s Lamar light-rail stop, you’re steps away from Bobby Magee Lopez’s “Hear the Train A Humming” mural at 13th and Lamar streets. Just up Lamar (at 8755 W. 14th St.), you can also lay eyes on Martha Pinkard-Williams’ “Stardust” mural (above). Then head for 16th Avenue, between Teller and Reed streets, to spy the seven murals created during last summer’s MuralFest. (The event takes place again on August 20.)
Studio & Gallery Tour
The 40 West Arts Gallery is the heart of this district. Stop in to see the Art of the Mind show (May 10 to 21), which features works in a range of mediums that explore mental health issues. (Sales from opening-night tickets support mental health care nonprofits in Jefferson County and Denver.) If you can, sneak a peek inside the newly opened 40 West Arts  studios just across 16th Avenue. Within this building, 16 artists create everything from sculptures made out of found objects to fine arts and jewelry; if you call in advance (303-275-3430), most are willing to arrange a tour.
Next door to the studios, you’ll find one of the city’s best-kept coffee secrets: Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters . Owner, Lakewood native, and two-time U.S. Brewers Cup champion Andy Sprenger has been serving his expertly roasted and brewed coffee here since 2013.
A few blocks from the 40 West Arts Gallery, 23-acre Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design ’s campus on Pierce Street presents an opportunity to stretch your legs and mind. Tour the leafy grounds (a century ago, this was the site of the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society’s facility for TB sufferers), making sure to stop in at the intimate Rude Gallery, one of the school’s four galleries. This month it features Lasting, portraiture and paintings by Irene Delka McCray.
Dinner & Drinks
When dinnertime arrives, pop over to neighborhood favorite Sloan’s Bar & Grille . Dressed in dark wood and a pressed-tin ceiling, Sloan’s has an old-school feel and tasty old-school pub grub—like bacon-topped meatloaf and a burger with American cheese—to match. If you’re just thirsty, try brand-new WestFax Brewing Company , located in the same strip mall as iconic Casa Bonita.
After landing in 40 West in 2013, The Edge Theater  has quickly become one of the city’s most exciting production companies. This month, the 85-seat venue puts on Harvey Fierstein’s 2014 Tony Award–nominated Casa Valentina.
Save the Date: October
An ode to the performing arts, fun, and good cuases, the annual 40 West Riot (the district's biggest fundraising event) has sold out every year since the inventive, one-night party started five years ago. The theme changes, but the purpose—support for 40 West Arts ' programming—never does.
—Photos (from top) courtesy of 40 West Arts District, Molly McCraw, Caleb Sprenger
Trip 5: Art District on Santa Fe
Don't just see art in Denver's most famous creative hub—make your own.
Built on the bones of an old commercial district, the 16-block Art District on Santa Fe holds one of the city’s largest concentrations of galleries with more than 50, including the renowned Museo de las Americas, beloved Point and Spark galleries, and John Fielder’s photographic headquarters. It’s little wonder that Santa Fe became Denver’s first certified creative district in 2012 or that Colorado Ballet opted to move its headquarters here in 2014. Or that you can spend an entire day perusing and still not have enough time to see it all—especially if you take advantage of the opportunities not just to view art, but to actually make some too.
I want to see...
…innovative exhibitions in a beautiful space
Metropolitan State University of Denver’s 5,000-square-foot contemporary gallery puts on some of the city’s most interesting exhibitions, often pairing the work of old masters with modern ones. This month, in tandem exhibitions, nearly 100 Colorado art teachers explore the friction between innovative teaching and institutional compliance.
…art that looks good and does good simultaneously
This nonprofit gallery helps those with disabilities harness their creative powers through partnerships with working artists. Its fall fund-raiser, 99 Pieces of Art on the Wall—during which 99 works by Access students and artists are sold for between $50 and $250—is an under-recognized chance to both support this important effort and score a sweet piece of art for a song.
…contemporary art, and a lot of it
Space Gallery 
Michael Burnett created an anchor at Fourth Street and Santa Fe Drive when he opened Space in 2014: The spectacular two-story gallery boasts more than 7,000 square feet (4,000 indoor, 3,000 outdoor) for exhibitions. With 21-foot ceilings, the building is a work of art itself, serving as a stunning canvas for contemporary artists during shows like this month’s Re MARK able, a painter’s showcase.
I want to make...
…a cutting board
Tackle your own project or one of the pre-set options at I Made It ’s wood studio. The affable staff will walk you through every step, from table-saw safety to toasting your success with craft beer (I Made It has a liquor license). Projects start at $35.
At her eponymous gallery, Morocco-born artist Georgia Amar  offers a series of five 2.5-hour small-group oil painting classes ($225) and provides all the supplies you’ll need. All you have to bring is your enthusiasm.
You don’t need an appointment to fashion one of more than 30 fused-glass projects (starting at $25), from wine stoppers to serving platters, at two-year-old Glassateria .
I want to eat...
For small bites and superbly pulled Americanos, stop by Mmm…Coffee! Paleo Bistro . Those with bigger appetites interested in nostalgic diner grub should make a weekend date with Interstate Kitchen & Bar .
Santa Fe has a full roster of enticing Mexican restaurants. They’re all solid, but over the past three decades, El Taco De Mexico  has made a name for itself serving spicy, true-to-its-Mexico-City-roots platters of tacos, smothered burritos, and tamales.
…forget eating; it’s time for happy hour
The cozy, mellow Molecule Effect transitions from coffeehouse to wine bar each evening and offers an impressively curated list of wines and well-made cocktails. themoleculeeffect.com 
Save the Date: August 5
This is the only day this summer that Santa Fe Drive will be shut down to cars for First Friday. Last year, more than 12,000 people turned out for the gallery night turned street party. We suggest you join them this time. artdistrictonsantafe.com 
—Photos (from top) courtesy of Space Gallery; Metropolitan State University of Denver, Center for Visual Art; VSA Colorado/Access Gallery; I Made It; Georgia Amar Fine Art; Glassateria, Sarah Boyum (2)
Q&A: The Way We Were
We asked Macy Dorf, owner of the Artists on Santa Fe gallery and a ceramist who’s had a studio on Santa Fe Drive for more than 30 years, to reminisce about the area’s early days.
5280: What was Santa Fe Drive like when you moved in?
Macy Dorf: It was pretty hard-core. There was really no reason to come down here, except for Joe’s Buffet. Joe’s was the home of the original Mexican hamburger, a hamburger in a tortilla smothered with red or green chile. One of the local newspapers said it was one of the top five places for a power lunch. So Santa Fe was the place to be at lunch, but not after dark.
Why did you move there then?
I needed a studio, and the rent was cheap. It stayed that way because the family who managed the building—the Wolfsons—were so supportive. They didn’t raise rents because people didn’t have money; there were people here who owed the Wolfsons six months’ rent.
So was this [Dorf’s building, which then housed about 12 artist studios and now holds 29] the heart of the art district then?
Ha! There was no art district! There was here. And across the street, there was a hairdresser on the second floor, and he put in a gallery on the first floor. Then two more people came down. Then a couple of other galleries opened and there were eight of us. We said, “Well, maybe we should just coordinate” and arbitrarily decided to do a First Friday. That was 13 or 14 years ago. Maybe 20 people showed up. From that, it grew.
How would you describe the neighborhood now?
We’re just a funky little thing trying to grow and stay in business, trying to stay alive and make our art.
Would you want to see that change?
No! Because when you get gentrification, the problem is how to maintain the gallery thing. Look at RiNo. The thing that’s so cool about here is that it’s not all those big condos and bars. It’s a neighborhood that has changed and evolved since the 1900s. But the change is not dramatic. The change has been slow, sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes horizontal. But none of the changes I’ve seen in the 30 years I’ve been here have been negative. That says a lot about the neighborhood.
—Photo courtesy of Macy Dorf
Trip 6: Cherry Creek North
Whether it's one-of-a-kind fine art or something a bit more affordable, use our matrix to find your creative sweet spot in this design-centric district.
There are those who might argue that Cherry Creek North is more of a shopping district than an art district. And with at least 50 boutiques in the area’s 16 blocks, it’s a fair point. But casting CCN as a place to just pick up designer jeans ignores the existence of esteemed galleries like Saks and Clayton Lane. Moreover, many of those aforementioned shops sell artisan items like hand-painted furniture and bike-gear wall clocks that require every bit as much creativity to conjure. Whether it’s art or artifact you’re after, we’ve devised this quick-glance guide to shops and galleries where you can take home something artsy regardless of your budget.
1. Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery.
The outside comes inside at acclaimed nature photographer Thomas. D. Mangelsen's CCN Gallery, one of eight throughout the country. Walk away with limited-edition prints of grizzlies or playful pikas—or get them both in a calendar.
2. Saks Galleries in Cherry Creek.
It takes knowing a thing or two about classic (and expensive) works of art—like oil paintings by 20th-century artist Fritz Scholder, whose work was recently highlighted at the Denver Art Museum—to stay in business for more than 50 years.
3. Clayton Lane Fine Arts.
The only thing you need to know about this contemporary-leaning CCN stalwart is that you can score rare Dr. Seuss prints. But, yes, you can find some pretty cool abstract oils and sculptures too.
4. Fascination St. Fine Art.
Owner Aaron LaPedis' wide-ranging gallery features everything from limited prints of John Lennon's hand-written lyrics to life-size, intricate bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Nano Lopez.
In 2010, Colorado native Daniel Louis transformed this early 1900s brick building into a shop that sells clever home goods made from repurposed materials. Think beetle-kill furniture, but also chairs made from street signs, boxcar wine racks, and clocks made from records.
6. Show of Hands.
From charming handmade greeting cards to jewelry that swears (in Morse code), Show of Hands promises to help you find an artisan-made gift for any occasion—even if that occasion is simply making yourself smile.
7. Philadelphia Print Shop West.
You might be able to find another 19th-century Audubon lithograph of an osprey in the metro area, but you won't encounter a gallery greeter quite like Heide, this map, print, and book shop's friendly canine host.
8. Tam O'Neill Fine Arts.
Tam O'Neill has been selling vintage maps (like Alexander Jamieson celestial charts from the 1800s) and rare prints (such as Currier & Ives 19th-century American scenes) for more than 20 years. Don't be surprised if you happily lose an hour exploring her collection.
9. Gallerie Rouge.
This quirky poster and framing shop maintains a massive selection of vintage European posters dating to the 1800s. John Wayne's High Noon in Polish? Yes, please.
Save the Date, July 2 to 4: More than 250 local, national, and international artists will be represented at the 26th annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival .
Will Drive for Art
The extra mileage ot these certified creative districts is worth it.
North Fork Valley Creative District Est. 2013
SEE This creative district stretches across several small towns, including Paonia, where you’ll want to visit the Hive Paonia , a creative co-working space and gallery. In Hotchkiss, don’t miss pottery-making and kids art classes at the Creamery Arts Center . And in tiny Crawford, stop into the North Rim Glass Studio (above) to be wowed by the big ideas and beautiful forms coming out of Jared and Nicole Davis’ studio .
STAY Paonia ’s quaint Bross Hotel Bed & Breakfast plants you in the middle of the action (or as much action as a 1,500-person town gets) downtown. Its 10 themed rooms come with unrivaled small-town hospitality and—upon request—in-room massages. From $120
EAT & DRINK Besides serving up hearty farm-to-table fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Living Farm Café & Inn  also displays works from Paonia’s Art Library, so you’ve got more to ogle than just your pan-seared rainbow trout or elk osso bucco.
Telluride Arts District Est. 2013
SEE Art connoisseurs will love the Murphy Modern Gallery at the Arroyo Wine Bar (970-239-2006), a contemporary exhibition space featuring acrylics by Denver artist Sharon Feder this month. Neophytes will appreciate the Ah Haa School for the Arts , a welcoming spot that showcases emerging talent and offers classes to budding Picassos.
STAY Choose your brand of luxury: downtown at Auberge Residences at Element 52  (from $674) or at Madeline Hotel and Residences  in Mountain Village (from $152), away from the (relative) crowds.
EAT & DRINK Get your morning cup of joe in a creative setting—a retrofitted, custom-made trailer—at the Coffee Cowboy  on Main Street. Later in the day, check out Top Chef contender Eliza Gavin’s updated American fare at 221 South Oak .
Salida Creative District Est. 2012
SEE If you’re in town for the Salida Art Walk  (June 24 to 26), you’ll see all manner of local art. If not, head to SteamPlant Event Center . With its sculpture garden, two art galleries, film screenings, and concerts, SteamPlant is Salida’s artistic centerpiece.
STAY Glimpse Salida’s Wild West roots at Palace Hotel , a 15-suite inn built in 1909 that now comes with modern in-suite kitchens and artisan-made soaps. From $137
EAT & DRINK Come suppertime, opt for the exposed brick and global tapas menu at the Fritz  downtown, or grab a seat along the Arkansas River and wash down what might be the state’s best chicken tenders with one of the 20 beers on tap at Boathouse Cantina .
—Additional reporting by Sophie Goodman
—Photos courtesy of North Rim Glass Studio
Outside the Lines
Hit the road with these mini guides for daytrips to three certified creative districts along the Front Range.
Greeley's annual Chalk-A-Lot festival
Greeley Creative District Est. 2014
Madison and Main Gallery  This groovy co-op across from University of Northern Colorado’s manicured grounds (and five galleries) has been showcasing the works of more than 20 artists since 1987. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and more in the evolving space.
Eighth Avenue Between Ninth and 14th streets downtown, Eighth Avenue is a thoroughfare of creative co-working spaces and co-ops like the Garage Creative Co-Op, a Galvanize-like space for artists, and Showcase Art Center, a veritable mini mall of creative endeavors, including sculpture, music, and sewing.
WeldWerks Brewing Co.  We’ll add our endorsement to this year-old brewery, which won silver at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in the competitive American Wheat category.
Kress Cinema & Lounge  Similar to Alamo Drafthouse, Kress pairs new releases with beer, cocktails, and a menu that includes flatbreads and cheese boards.
Pueblo Creative Corridor Est. 2013
Kadoya Gallery  Located in the Main Street district, Kadoya is dedicated to artists from Pueblo and the Southwest region. This month, view local artist Danielle Harwell’s experiential installations.
Union Avenue District Learn more about the city you’re touring at El Pueblo History Museum; see art in co-op-like spaces at Steel City Art Works and Turf Exchange Visual Art Center; or catch a production at the Steel City Theatre Company (Love, Loss, and What I Wore is playing this month).
Neon Alley  For its small size, Pueblo has an impressive collection of vintage neon. From old motel signs to a burger joint’s fading emblem, a dozen pieces of neon art plaster facades along one block just west of Union Avenue.
Longmont Creative District Est. 2014
The Firehouse Art Center  Established in 1986 as an arts education and outreach facility, this Longmont landmark presents as many as 20 exhibitions a year, ranging from interactive installations to collections of more traditional oil-on-canvas works.
Longmont Museum  This massive gallery and museum with panoramic views of the Front Range added an auditorium and stage last year, upping its total square footage dedicated to creative endeavors to 35,000. Not bad for a museum founded in 1936 in a carriage house.
HotBox Roasters This past summer, Oskar Blues Brewery launched a coffee-roasting label. Stop in for a cup at the corporate headquarters and brewery on Pike Road and grab a can of beans to go.
Georgia Boys BBQ Company  Georgia Boys’ ribs were such a hit at the original Longmont location that in 2014, its Peach State–native owners opened a second spot in Frederick.
—Photo courtesy of the City of Greeley